Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Bank of Korea, in association with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), has unveiled plans for a pilot program focused on the implementation and assessment of a Korean wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). The CBDC is intended to facilitate interbank settlements as well as enable the issuance of various forms of digital currencies by commercial banks, which can be collateralized to different extents based on specific circumstances.

Planned Trial of Wholesale CBDC by the Bank of Korea

The Bank of Korea has formally declared its intentions to conduct a pilot for a wholesale CBDC, aiming to gauge the system’s practicality and efficiency across a range of applications. A wholesale CBDC is created with the purpose of being utilized by commercial banks and other financial establishments.

Devised in consultation with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the proposed infrastructure would empower participating commercial banks to issue diverse types of digital currencies. These could include tokenized deposits and electronic money, all underpinned by the wholesale CBDC as a form of collateral. Furthermore, the wholesale CBDC would function as a means of executing interbank settlements.

The scope of the pilot may extend beyond traditional banking, incorporating functionalities for immediate settlement of tokenized assets, such as carbon credits, wherein both delivery and payment would be processed simultaneously.

Progression and Goals of the Korean Pilot

This pilot serves as a sequel to the Bank of Korea’s previous trials involving a retail CBDC, conducted from July to December 2022 and featuring the participation of 14 financial entities. Although deemed successful, the Bank of Korea articulated that there is no immediate necessity for a retail CBDC, citing the proficiency of its existing payments framework.

Moreover, the bank indicated that the deployment of a retail CBDC could engender a host of challenges within the financial ecosystem, potentially undermining the importance of traditional banks in Korea’s economy and raising concerns over user privacy.

The aims of the wholesale CBDC pilot are multifaceted. One objective is to shift attention away from cryptocurrencies towards what are considered more stable and responsible options, especially given the notable engagement of Koreans in cryptocurrency markets. Another aim is to augment the efficiency of tokenization and payment processes by incorporating digital currencies. The final goal is to assimilate this system into the Bank for International Settlements’ broader Unified Ledger strategy, thereby averting system fragmentation and isolation.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted a parallel experiment in July, focusing on a tokenized wholesale digital dollar. The test reported favorable outcomes, particularly in its applicability for interbank settlements and cross-border financial transactions.

We invite you to share your perspectives on the Bank of Korea’s forthcoming wholesale CBDC pilot in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wholesale CBDC Pilot

What is the primary objective of the wholesale CBDC pilot by the Bank of Korea?

The primary objective of the pilot is to test the functionality and efficiency of a Korean wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). This form of CBDC is designed to facilitate interbank settlements and enable commercial banks to issue various forms of digital currencies.

Who are the collaborating organizations for this pilot?

The Bank of Korea is collaborating with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) for the design and implementation of this wholesale CBDC pilot.

How does the wholesale CBDC differ from a retail CBDC?

A wholesale CBDC is intended for use by financial institutions like commercial banks for interbank transactions. In contrast, a retail CBDC would be available for general public use for everyday transactions.

What are the potential applications beyond traditional banking?

The pilot could extend to immediate settlements of tokenized assets such as carbon credits, allowing for simultaneous delivery and payment.

What was the outcome of the Bank of Korea’s previous retail CBDC pilot?

The Bank of Korea conducted a retail CBDC pilot from July to December 2022 with the participation of 14 financial institutions. Although deemed successful, the bank concluded that there was no immediate need to introduce a retail CBDC due to the efficiency of Korea’s existing payment systems.

Are there any concerns associated with the introduction of a CBDC?

Yes, the Bank of Korea has indicated that the introduction of a retail CBDC could pose challenges to the financial system, including undermining the role of traditional banks and raising privacy concerns.

What are the broader goals of this wholesale CBDC pilot?

The broader goals include shifting attention from cryptocurrencies to more stable financial assets, enhancing the efficiency of tokenization and payment processes, and integrating the system into the Bank for International Settlements’ Unified Ledger strategy to avoid system fragmentation.

Has any other central bank conducted a similar test?

Yes, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted a similar test involving a tokenized wholesale digital dollar in July. The test reported positive results, particularly in its applicability for interbank settlements and cross-border financial transactions.

More about Wholesale CBDC Pilot


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John D. October 7, 2023 - 8:43 pm

Interesting development here. Wholesale CBDCs could really shake up the banking system, right? especially in a tech-savvy country like Korea.

MartyK October 7, 2023 - 9:24 pm

A pilot with 14 institutions last year and now this? Seems Korea is making strides in digital currencies. Excited to see where this leads.

TimH October 7, 2023 - 10:43 pm

Unified Ledger approach by the BIS, huh? so we’re talkin bout a system that could potentially be global. that’s big news.

Rachel.Z October 8, 2023 - 4:17 am

If it’s gonna facilitate cross-border payments, I’m all ears. But lets not forget, tech like this could have its own set of challenges.

AlexW October 8, 2023 - 4:42 am

Great to see more central banks getting into this. But what about cryptocurrencies? Seems like they’re trying to draw attention away from them. Makes ya wonder…

Sarah_M October 8, 2023 - 10:56 am

Wait, so they’re saying that retail CBDCs are not gonna happen any time soon coz of concerns but wholesale is good to go? kinda contradictory, ain’t it.

KennyO October 8, 2023 - 1:55 pm

so what’s this gonna mean for the average Joe? anything to worry bout, or is it just the banks that should be concerned.


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